Excerpt from a novel – Decadence

Posted on August 7, 2010 by


4.35am The May Fair Hotel.

…and I am trying to work out why there is a painting, an old master, a facsimile, stuck to ceiling above the bed. It is out of sorts with the minimalist white sheets and blinds; the frosted glass and dark wood of the bathroom. And then he knocks on the door, telling us to keep the noise down.

            I’m wearing a white robe with a heavily embroidered ‘M’ monogram over my right pectoral. There is a metallic taste in my mouth and I wonder if I’ve tasted blood or if someone has spiked me. I can’t recall either happening but you never know. Valentine, who is trussed to a bed with black masking tape, turns and shouts for me to open the door. He’s naked, but for a pair of carpet slippers. I turn and stare at him, spacing out, focussing on the tattoo across his back, which is of the word ‘Honour’ written in gothic script. A dark haired girl, one of the girls from earlier, stands over him, dressed only in high-waisted knickers, decorated at the front with diamante. The other two girls sit on a white leather sofa, wearing 3D glasses, watching pornography on a fifty-inch television. They are smoking cigarettes. The dark-haired girl strikes Valentine on the backside with a short leather paddle with air-holes. A red cloud appears on his buttocks and then darkens, sharpening in focus until it resembles a conventional welt.

            ‘Answer the door will you?’ he says, his mouth contorted with pain.

            ‘Do you think this is a good time?’ I say.

            The girl hits him against.

            ‘Answer it and get rid of whoever it is!’

             I move past him and open the door.

           ‘Can I help?’ I ask. The guy out in the hall is handsome with short-cropped hair, and a diamante stud in one ear. He is wearing only a pair of indigo jeans, For All Mankind I think, with a white studded belt. I must be spacing out again, but I find myself fascinated with his torso. Abdominals firmly indented, like when one claws through wet sand on the beach, leaving deep ridges.

            ‘What’s going on in there, man? You guys having a party or some shit? I gotta get some sleep man – you know it’s nearly five in the morning?’

            ‘I’m sorry we’ve disturbed you….’

            He looks at me and then a light of recognition flicks on in his eyes.

            ‘No way! You’re that cheesy-assed bastard off the TV. What’s that show? Man – Jared’s World!’ His eyes are now bulging like miniature pods of newly risen bread. He laughs. ‘That show is some weirdedout shit!’

            ‘Thank you,’ I say. I’m dizzy. My stomach is tight, as though someone is pouring cups of water directly into it. ‘Sorry about the noise. If there’s anything I can do…’

            ‘I’m Zucker Flailing. Premier League prima donna. Transfer deal demon. Mid-field marauder. Tabloid scourge. Ten-jags-and-a-pop-starlet scandal in Miami. All that shit. Now what the hell is this shit?’ he says, looking past me into the suite at Valentine strapped to the bed. ‘Man, I’ve gotta get me some of this.’ He pushes past me.

            There is a dull ache in my head and this has for some reason become indexed to the scent of Zucker Flailing, the citreous and musk of his aftershave serving to clarify and heighten my awareness of pain. I walk in after him.

            ‘This is Jamie Valentine’ I say. Jamie, whose knuckles are white holding on to the bed-frame, strains to face us, his face raw, thousands of little blood explosions under the skin, wiry black stubble slick with sweat.

            I’m hoping the girls will introduce themselves.

            ‘My man!’ says Zucker. ‘Are you having a good time!’ He steps around the bed to get where Jamie can see him comfortably. ‘Shit, and I thought you was all clean cut, Jared!’

            A blonde girl emerges from the bathroom. She is wearing red fishnet hold-ups, a pair of complicated-looking knickers and is smoking a cigarette at the end of an eight inch holder. She walks three steps to the end of the bed and then, clutching her head, falls into a seated position. ‘I thought we agreed only two?’

            Another girl follows, similarly dressed. So there are five of them in here. I move back into the room, and see a laptop open, the Supreme69 Escorts website onscreen.

            ‘Woo-weee!’ says Zucker, clapping his hands then rubbing them as if in anticipation of what’s to come. ‘You guys have got quite a party going on in here – quite a party! I like the way you operate. Ladies – my name is Zucker Flailing: form yourselves an orderly queue.’

            ‘For Christ’s sake Jared, why the hell did you let him in here?’ says Valentine, husky, low. ‘Get over here and untie me will you.’ His hands strain against the black tape but he can’t shift it. I get up and walk towards the bed, then Zucker puts out a hand to stop me.

            ‘Hold on, hold on – no need to slow things down on my account. Now, I’m sorry I’ve barged in on you in the middle of all your fun – well, his fun anyway,’ he says, pointing at Valentine, ‘Looks like the only thing my man Jared here is ready to hit is the sack. But I’m sure we can all come to some arrangement. Sure, I’ve crashed the party. But you guys woke me up – and I’ve got a game tomorrow. So I guess that kind of makes us even, doesn’t it? Now, Zucker’s a generous man – and he’s not afraid to put his hand in his pocket to subsidise a good time. And I reckon there’s more than enough fun around here to stretch around five – what do you guys reckon? Are we playing?’

            Valentine appears to be taking the offer seriously.

            ‘The only thing is, we’re kind of out of supplies here.’ He nods at a low Japanese black oak table in front of the two girls on the sofa. There are remains, a light dusting.

           (I don’t remember doing any.)

            ‘Not a problem, my man – not a problem,’ says Zucker. He smiles, revealing a diamond-capped front tooth which glints, a sharp pinprick of light. He takes a platinum mobile phone from his pocket. He raises is to his ear, his bicep tightening, causing a cross tattooed on the muscle to undulate. He pushes a button and speaks softly into the device. As he does so, one of the girls, the one who had been beating Valentine, moves towards him, and puts a hand on his neck, caressing him and then allowing it to trail gently down his pectoral and abdominal muscles, before placing it over his crotch.

            I’m watching all of this but I’m really not feeling well. Have to get a grip, Jared, have to pull it together. I pick up a champagne flute from the bedside table. I take a drink; the bubbling fizzy liquid is warm and then hot dry hot ash falls into the back of my throat, parching it once more. Someone must have put a cigarette out in the glass.

            Zucker put his phone back in his pocket, and pulls the woman’s head towards him. He kisses her hard on the lips and then shoves her away from him onto the bed, so her head hits Valentines’ bound legs. He pulls of his belt; it rattles as it come loose.

            ‘Shit! Now let Zucker see who’s boss round here!’

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